Elections in Indonesia
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Elections in Indonesia have taken place since 1955 to elect a legislature. At a national level, Indonesian people did not elect a head of state – the president – until 2004. Since then, the president is elected for a five-year term, as are the 575-member People's Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR), the 136-seat Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah), in addition to provincial and municipal legislative councils.
Members of the People's Representative Council are elected by proportional representation from multi-candidate constituencies. Currently, there are 77 constituencies in Indonesia and each returns 3-10 Members of Parliament based on population. Under Indonesia's multi-party system, no one party has yet been able to secure an outright majority in a democratic election; parties have needed to work together in coalition governments. Members of the Regional Representative Council are elected by single non-transferable vote. There, Indonesia's 34 provinces treated as constituencies and, regardless of the size and population, every provinces return 4 senators.
Starting from the 2015 unified local elections, Indonesia started to elect governors and mayors simultaneously on the same date.
The voting age in Indonesia is 17 but anyone who has an ID card (Indonesian: Kartu Tanda Penduduk (KTP)) can vote, since persons under 17 who are or were married can get a KTP.
Early elections (1955)Edit
Indonesia's first general election elected members of the DPR and the Constitutional Assembly of Indonesia (Konstituante). The election was organised by the government of Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo. Sastroamidjojo himself declined to stand for election, and Burhanuddin Harahap became Prime Minister.
The election occurred in two stages:
- The election of the members of the People's Representative Council, which took place on 29 September 1955. Twenty-nine political parties and individuals took part;
- The election for the members of the Constitutional Assembly, which took place on 15 December 1955.
The five largest parties in the election were the National Party of Indonesia (Partai Nasional Indonesia), Masyumi, Nahdlatul Ulama, the Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI), and the Indonesian Islamic Union Party (Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia).
Beginning of the New Order (1971)Edit
The first election after the establishment of the "New Order" took place on 5 July 1971. Ten political parties participated.
Elections under the New Order (1977–1997)Edit
Five further legislative elections were held under the government of President Suharto. In accordance with the legislation, these were contested by two parties (PPP and PDI) and one functional group (Golkar). All elections in this period were won by Golkar.
On every March after the legislative election, the People's Consultative Assembly would held General Sessions in which included the election of President and soon after, the Vice President. On all occasions, Suharto was the only person ever stood as presidential candidate, thus enabling him to be elected unanimously. On vice-presidential elections, all candidates endorsed by Golkar (and the military faction) went on to be elected unanimously.
To ensure that Golkar always won more than 60 percent of the popular vote, the New Order regime used a number of tactics. These included:
- Reducing the number of opponents: In 1973, the existing political parties were forced to merge into the United Development Party (PPP) and the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). These were the only parties allowed to contest general elections.
- Weakening the remaining opponents: The two political parties were forbidden to criticise government policy, and the government had to approve all slogans they used. Furthermore, they were not allowed to organise at the village level (where the majority of Indonesians live). To stop the rise of charismatic figures, their candidates had to be vetted by the government. When a potentially charismatic figure (in the form of founding president Sukarno's daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri) became leader of the PDI, the government engineered a political convention in Medan in 1996 to remove her. Ironically, the ensuing disturbances at the PDI's Jakarta headquarters began a chain of events that indirectly led to the downfall of the New Order.
- Coercion to vote Golkar: Civil servants were ordered to support Golkar, or face accusations of insubordination. Private sector workers were reminded of the need for "stability". Many people believed the vote was not secret, and the government did little to persuade them otherwise. Many voters were still at school, and they were warned by teachers of a link between their choice at the ballot box and exam success 
- The vote-counting process: The Golkar votes were counted first, then those of the two other parties. In the 1997 election, by 9pm on the day after voting, Golkar had already been awarded 94% of its eventual vote. By contrast, the PPP had been credited with less than 10% of its final tally.
- Vote-rigging: Although the counting at the local ballot boxes was conducted in public, with the ballot papers held up and the scores marked on boards, it was at the later stages where irregularities were frequently reported.
- Multiple voting: There was no effective way of determining who had already voted, allowing many to do so more than once 
|Year||United Development Party
(Partai Persatuan Pembangunan, PPP)
|The Functional Groups
(Golongan Karya, Golkar)
|Indonesian Democratic Party|
(Partai Demokrasi Indonesia, PDI)
|1977||18,743,491 (29.29%)||99 (27.50%)||39,750,096 (62.11%)||232 (64.44%)||5,504,757 (8.60%)||29 (8.06%)|
|1982||20,871,880 (27.78%)||94 (26.11%)||48,334,724 (64.34%)||242 (67.22%)||5,919,702 (7.88%)||24 (6.67%)|
|1987||13,701,428 (15.97%)||61 (15.25%)||62,783,680 (73.17%)||299 (74.75%)||9,324,708 (10.87%)||40 (10.00%)|
|1992||16,624,647 (17.00%)||62 (15.50%)||66,599,331 (68.10%)||282 (70.50%)||14,565,556 (14.89%)||56 (14.00%)|
|1997||25,341,028 (22.43%)||89 (20.94%)||84,187,907 (74.51%)||325 (76.47%)||3,463,226 (3.07%)||11 (2.59%)|
|Source: General Election Commission|
Seats up for election: 360 (1977 and 1982), 400 (1987 and 1992), 425 (1997)
Election reforms (1999–present)Edit
The six largest parties which passed the electoral threshold of 2% were the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan), the reformed Golkar Party, the United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan), the National Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa), the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional), and the Crescent Star Party (Partai Bulan Bintang).
Under the constitution, the new President was elected by members of both houses of Parliament in a joint sitting. This meant that although the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle won the largest share of the popular vote, the new President was not its nominee, Megawati Sukarnoputri, but Abdurrahman Wahid from the National Awakening Party. Megawati became Vice-President.
During its 2002 annual session, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) added 14 amendments to the Constitution of Indonesia. Included in these amendments were measures to reorganise the Indonesian legislature. Beginning in 2004, the MPR would be composed of the existing People's Representative Council (DPR) and a new Regional Representative Council (DPD). Because all the seats in the MPR would be directly elected, this called for the removal of the military from the legislature, whose 38 seats for the 1999–2004 period were all appointed. This change and an amendment for direct election of the President and Vice-President were major steps for Indonesia on the road towards a full democracy.
The 2004 legislative election was held on 5 April 2004. A total of 24 parties contested the election. The Golkar Party won the largest share of the vote, at 21.6%, followed by the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle, the National Awakening Party, the United Development Party and newly formed Democratic Party. 17 parties won legislative seats.
In 2005, Indonesia also began holding direct elections for governors, mayors and regents - prior to this, the local executives had been elected by a vote of the local legislative body. The first region to do so was Kutai Kartanegara, which held a regency election on 1 June 2005.
2009 legislative and presidential electionsEdit
Legislative elections for the Regional Representatives Council and the People's Representative Council were held in Indonesia on 9 April 2009. The presidential election was held on 8 July, with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono winning enough of the vote to make the run-off election unnecessary.
2014 legislative and presidential electionsEdit
Legislative elections for the Regional Representatives Council and the People's Representative Council were held in Indonesia on 9 April 2014. The presidential election was held on 9 July 2014, with Joko Widodo, then the Governor of Jakarta winning the election against Prabowo Subianto, a former general in Indonesia.
2019 legislative and presidential electionsEdit
In 2019, for the first time, legislative and presidential elections were held on the same day. Joko Widodo, running with Ma’ruf Amin as his vice-presidntial candidate, again defeated Prabowo Subianto, running with Sandiaga Uno, wining 55.4 percent of the vote. In the legislative vote, the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle came first, with 19.3 percent of the vote, followed by Prabowo's Gerindra Party with 12.6 percent.
|Year||Registered voters||Voter turnout||%|
|Source: Ariwibowo et al. 1997, p. 23|
|Year||Registered voters||Voter turnout||%|
|2004, First Round||155,048,803||118,656,868||78.23|
|2004, Second Round||155,048,803||114,257,054||75.24|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elections in Indonesia.|
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